ST. CHARLES – Kane County’s judiciary has added three new judges to its ranks, including the county’s first Hispanic judge, its first openly gay judge, and a former chief prosecutor.
On Thursday, the three judges – former Kane County State’s Attorney John Barsanti, Aurora lawyer Rene Cruz and Elgin lawyer John Dalton – took the oath of office in a ceremony before a capacity crowd in the Kane County Branch Court in St. Charles.
Cruz, who becomes the county’s first Hispanic judge, praised his parents for the example they set in decades of service to their family and country, including his father’s military service in Vietnam.
Cruz said that example is what led him to dedicate himself to working in the Aurora community, and to leave a growing law firm.
“I’m not done giving back,” Cruz said.
Cruz was appointed to the bench last month, and has begun hearing cases in family court.
Kane County Judge Keith Brown said he believed Cruz’s appointment was significant for Kane County.
“Our judiciary has to represent, across cultural lines, to show we represent the communities we serve,” Brown said.
Brown also praised Cruz’s abilities, saying he believed those who appear before Cruz will learn to see him not only as a Hispanic judge, but “as a great judge.”
Also on Thursday, Dalton took the oath of office, becoming the first openly gay judge to serve in Kane County, and the first outside of Cook County in the state of Illinois.
Dalton recognized his spouse, Rich Jacobs, and confessed to those in attendance that he had spent much of his life hiding his sexuality to advance his career, not imagining the day would arrive when he could proudly declare his true identity.
He noted that he has been surprised to live to see the day when “the impossible became not just possible, but reality.”
Dalton was elected to the bench in November.
And on Thursday, Barsanti also was sworn as a judge in Kane County.
The former prosecutor had been appointed judge in 2010 in Kendall County.
He was elected in Kane County in November.
Kane County Chief Judge Judy Brawka lauded Barsanti for his “sharp intellect and keen trial skills.”
“Now that he has returned home, all you lawyers, you better have your ‘A-game’ on,” Brawka said.